Students begin new life with help of International Student Services
June 13, 2012
Vladimir Bublik wasn’t scared when he first moved to Toronto.
The first-year business management student arrived in Toronto a year and a half ago from Kazakhstan and hasn’t looked back since. Bublik learned about Ryerson from a friend back home and after moving to Toronto, he liked what he discovered about the university even more. Bublik is one of few students who wasn’t nervous about starting a new university life abroad. He anticipated it would be hard to meet people and there would be a transitional phase adjusting to life here in Toronto but Bublik took it in stride.
“I found my first year to be exciting,” Bublik said. “I volunteered with International Student Services to meet people and asked them for support and help whenever I needed it.”
International Student Services (ISS) is a one-stop shop for students arriving in Canada for the first time. A team of advisors, facilitators and administrators led by co-ordinator Diana Ning assist the 1,400 international students studying at Ryerson. ISS will take on any issue big or small to help international students adjust to their new life in Canada. From health coverage to work permits to financial assistance, ISS handles a wide range of matters.
“Based on my observation of international students at Ryerson, I find most of them are extremely talented, hardworking and have a strong desire to do more and better at this university,” Ning said. “ISS doesn’t work alone to support the population of 1,400. It is everyone, faculty, staff, senior administration and the off-campus community who work together to support them.”
One reason Bublik wasn’t nervous about living in a new country is because he’s travelled extensively as a boxer. He’s been training since he was 10 years old and participating in competitions since he was 12. He won a provincial championship in Kazakhstan, came in second at the championships in Asia and placed fifth in the world. The discipline he’s learned as a boxer appears to have translated into his studies as Bublik is taking four courses this summer and plans to graduate early.
Coming from what he calls a “conservative” country, Bublik was shocked by the freedom of choice people exercised here.
“I wasn’t used to seeing so many different looks and appearances,” he said. “Toronto is very diverse and living here has changed my perspective.”
Bublik admits there have been some amusing moments when greeting people in Toronto. He says he didn’t understand when people said, “What’s up?” and always looked to the sky. Similarly, Afshin Rahimi, a master’s student in aerospace engineering from Iran, has encountered so many different variations of greeting people, he’s still learning how to adapt.
“One social situation such as shaking hands can have many different aspects,” Rahimi said. “Back home we greet everyone the same but here, you can hug one person, shake hands with another or give a dap (another form of handshake).”
Despite the cultural clashes, Bublik has found enjoyment in his new life abroad.
“I like Ryerson’s diversity and have met people from different backgrounds,” he said. “Fellow students are friendly, I fell in love with my program and life is changing every moment.”